Believing involves commitment. Serious commitment.

A Verbal Microcosm (3)

I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1.12

Two questions
“Commitment” is an idea which is regarded with a certain wariness in our day. People hesitate to make commitments that obligate them too deeply or for too long a period of time. A reluctance to make commitments explains why fewer people are choosing to marry or to stay married for life. People will commit to something – a job, a relationship, a sports team, or a church – as long as it seems to be in their best interest. Which is just another way of saying that the commitments we make are generally for the purpose of aggrandizing our own wellbeing.

And that’s not entirely bad. The problem arises when concern for self is the only or even the primary reason for making a commitment. A commitment is just that – “co-”, that is “together”, “two-ways”, or even “mutually advantageous.” The Oxford English Dictionary uses synonyms such as “pledge”, “dedicate”, “long-term relationship”, and “consign” to explain its definition of “commit.”

In other words, a commitment could be defined as an action that changes our direction, status, relationships, intentions, promises, and hopes in a way that, generally, should not be easily altered. When the apostle Paul believed in Jesus, Whom God had revealed to him on the Damascus road, he made a commitment to Jesus which, as we have seen, changed the course of his life.

The Greek word for “commit” is παρατίθεμαι, paratitheimai, and it means “to entrust oneself to the care of someone” (Louw and Nida). From this verb we get the word Paul uses in our text, παραθήκη, paratheke, which refers to that which has been committed or entrusted to the care of another. Jesus used this word in Luke 23.46 to commit His Spirit to His heavenly Father. Luke used this same word to describe Paul’s action of entrusting to the elders of churches those believers who were gathered as their congregation.

We ought not make commitments willy-nilly: “don’t make promises you can’t keep.” But we ought to make commitments when they are required, and according to what they require. If, for example, you commit to a bank for a loan, you are dedicating a certain amount of money to be transferred to that bank at a certain time and in a timely manner. You made a commitment of that money; it’s no longer yours.

Or if you make a commitment before God saying that, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, you will cherish and hold and protect and love this person to whom you are making this commitment, you must make it your daily business to give all that commitment requires to fulfill what you have promised before your spouse and God.

Commitments are essential. We can’t get along without them. We want our employer to pay what he has committed to us. We want our military and police to carry out their commitments to serve and protect. And thus we should be prepared to make commitments and carry them out as well, especially those which God requires for believing in Him.

Paul’s commitment
Paul indicated that he had committed something to Jesus. When the Lord revealed Himself to Paul in a saving way, and Paul believed in Him for forgiveness and salvation, then Paul made a commitment to Jesus, which, he was convinced, Jesus would keep until the day Paul stood before Him in glory.

Just what did Paul commit to Jesus? We can gain some insight to this by looking at a few other passages from Paul’s epistles.

First, Paul committed all his time to the Lord. He was determined to make the most of every moment, to invest all the time of his life to living wisely, and not like one who did not believe in the Lord (Eph. 5.15-17). He filled his time with those disciplines that readied and enabled him to be a disciple of the Lord and an ambassador of His Kingdom – prayer, reading and meditating in Scripture, boasting in the Lord, loving others as Christ loved him, improving in excellence, and doing all things in the time of his life for the glory of God.

Second, Paul committed his entire life to the Lord. As we have seen, he put aside everything that used to be important to him – status, prestige, certain exercises of authority and power, friendships, traditions and heritage – in order to make room in his life for learning new ways, acquiring new skills, developing new abilities and ways of thinking, building new relationships, and taking up new efforts for the Lord. Paul seems to have regarded himself as a kind of living sacrifice, giving himself body and soul to the Lord every day for whatever the Lord wanted to do (Rom. 12.1, 2).

Paul committed all his trust and hope to the Lord. He trusted Jesus to meet his needs, direct his steps, bring fruit to his labors, and use his words for His Kingdom and glory. His great confidence and hope were that Jesus lived in Him and that the life he was living in the flesh was at all times enabled and empowered by the Son of God, Who loved him (Gal. 2.20).

Finally, Paul committed everything he was and had to the Lord. He knew he had been bought with the price of Jesus’ blood and righteousness; he was not his own. He belonged to the Lord, in whole and part. He had given every aspect, facet, detail, development, and disposition of his life to being a dwelling place of God, and he claimed no right of personal use for anything that he was or had (1 Cor. 6.19, 20).

All this Paul entrusted to Jesus, committed to Jesus, and handed over to Jesus. He never took it back, and he never failed to carry out all that commitment required of him, as he wrote to Timothy near the end of his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4.7, 8).

The commitment faith requires

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Jesus” (1 Cor. 11.1). Apparently being a follower of Jesus, like the apostle Paul, requires the kind of commitment Paul made, following Jesus. That doesn’t mean we all must become itinerating missionaries or preachers. But whatever we are, and however we go about in this world, the commitment Paul entrusted to Jesus – of time, life, hope, trust, and all things – is incumbent on us as well.

After all, we confess that Jesus has saved us. Does not gratitude for such a great salvation dictate the commitment to Him of all we are and have? Jesus moreover is Lord and King. Should we not be joyful and eager to give ourselves entirely to His service? Partial, wishy-washy, self-serving commitments will not cut it with Jesus. Jesus is coming again, and when He does, we will see Him as He is. And at that time, if we long to hear Him assess our commitment in those happy words “Well done, good and faithful servant”, then we need to be making and carrying out that commitment now, each day, in every aspect of our lives.

For this is what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.

For reflection
1. How can you review and renew your commitment to Christ each day? Why should you?

2. What does it mean to make the most of the time of your life for Christ and His Kingdom?

3. Are there any areas of your life which you have been holding back and have not committed to Jesus?

Next steps – Transformation: Review your day in prayer, and commit yourself in every aspect of your day for serving Jesus.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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